One of the most unexpected piece of news over the last couple of years was when Disney announced that it had purchased Lucasfilm along with the all the properties for Indiana Jones and Star Wars for the incredible amount of $4.05 billion. The Disney mogul has been on a mission of swallowing smaller successful studios since 2005, when it bought Pixar. Later on, in 2009, Marvel was also sold to Disney. Even though it is clear that the company pursues high profit, the Star Wars franchise has been refreshed since it belongs to Disney. Next month the newest movie, “The Force Awakens”, will be released in cinemas worldwide.
The beloved series has gone through quite some transformations, as listed in the top 10 changes made to Star Wars by Disney.
1. The Star Wars Land
Disney will soon start the works on a Star Wars theme park, which will open its gates in 2021 and will be located in Anaheim’s Disneyland and Hollywood Studios. Due to conflicts between George Lucas and the management of the parks and resorts of Disney, this wasn’t possible until now. However, there are quite a few Star Wars themed rides, like “Season of the Force”. The first Star Tours motion-simulator opened in 1987.
2. The Money
Force Friday is a concept first tested on September 4, 2015, very similar to Black Friday. On this day all sorts of merchandise products went on sale. The Star Wars franchise recorded a tremendous rise in its earnings, managing in just three years to regain its $4 billion investment. Moneywise, Disney has proved of real help until now.
3. The Digital Editions
All of the Star Wars movies have been remastered and re-released on various platforms. If at the beginning, you could watch them on VHS, Disney made sure the movies can keep up with the technological advancements and thus re-released them on LaserDiscs, DVDs and Blu-rays. They were also released in multiple editions: extended editions and bonus features like making-of and behind-the-scenes. More recently, a digital version that comprises all six movies has become available in stores since April 10, 2015.
4. The Comic Books
Another big change by Disney came when the license for Star Wars comics was pulled from the Dark Horse Company and given to Marvel, one of Disney’s corporate subsidiaries. It is interesting to observe that even though Dark Horse has been publishing SW comics since 1991, it was Marvel who dealt with the first ever ones back in 1977. The animated series “The Clone Wars” which was running on Cartoon Network was also abruptly ended in favor of the “Rebels” series on Disney XD.
5. The Story Group
The management team of Lucasfilm along with several other people concerned with the continuity and links of the story of Star Wars have gathered into Lucasfilm Story Group. Their goal is to keep the storytelling unified and connected within all movies, novels, videogames and comics related to Star Wars. It is a good step towards keeping the boundaries of the universe and not slipping into inappropriate territory.
6. The Expanded Universe
Lucasfilm decided to wipe out the story continuity full of errors that is in the EU and start everything over again. This is for the first original trilogy, as well as the second one, which was written by Timothy Zahn and released in 1991. Named “Star Wars: Heir to the Empire”, it recorded a huge success and numerous comics, video games and merchandise based on the trilogy soon followed.
7. The Shutdown of LucasArts
The fact that one of the pillars of video game producing has been shut down has shocked many. Known for popular games, such as “The Secret of Monkey Island” or “Maniac Mansion”, LucasArts had a history of 31 years. It has released several Star Wars games as well, but Disney decided it was more profitable to work with other publishers than keep the studios. The newest game of the SW franchise, “Star Wars: Battlefront”, was just released by Electronic Arts.
8. The renewal of the television productions
There were several animated productions for television in the works, such as “The Clone Wars” and “Detours” which is in production at the moment. However, both projects have seen their end, since Disney wants to start fresh in this field as well. “The Clone Wars” has been canceled, and “Detours” wasn’t even finished. Apparently the new management team of Lucasfilm can’t continue old projects. The new productions will most probably be released on Netflix.
9. The Anthology Movies
The newest movie in the franchise, “The Force Awakens”, will be the first of a new trilogy and it will be released this December. It has also recently been announced that a new trilogy is in the works, entitled “Star Wars Anthologies”. The series will be standalone and will offer insights over other characters and events. This seems to be part of the big plan of Disney to release a SW related movie each year, alternating the new trilogy with the Anthologies. This will keep them covered at least until 2020.
10. The New Trilogy
The most awaited movie of the year, “The Force Awakens” is the first in a new trilogy, the first one under the helm of Disney. This is one of the first new projects by Disney, based on one of George Lucas’ ideas from the 1970s, which was abandoned when the 1999 trilogy was produced. Furthermore, a fourth trilogy might soon be planned after 2020.